Elastic functional bandaging is one of the most commonly used and effective physiotherapeutic treatments for lymphedema of the limbs and related conditions, such as acute lymphangitis. In chronic treatment, it is often replaced by elastic compression stockings (more easily manageable by the patient), which perform a function similar to bandaging, especially regarding their physical compressive action.

Elastic Functional Bandaging:

However, compression stockings, even if ordered “custom-made,” cannot offer the same adaptability and effectiveness as daily applied bandaging. For this reason, some doctors and physiotherapists teach their patients how to apply a correct and functional bandage so they can repeat the process at home, possibly in combination with at-home mechanical lymphatic drainage. 

The term “elastic-functional” is used in the context of lymphedema bandaging because it should allow the limb to move comfortably while simultaneously facilitating the physical-elastic draining function of the bandage in a gentle manner.

There are numerous methods and techniques for applying it, but a multi-layer technique is commonly recommended. It typically involves applying an initial layer of foam rubber or cotton, serving a protective and potentially reshaping function, followed by several layers of elastic bandages (mostly “short-stretch,” meaning they have low extensibility). These layers allow for the modulation of compressive action. 

In the therapy of acute lymphangitis, zinc oxide bandages and possibly antibiotic-corticosteroid pharmaceutical preparations in cream or ointment form may be added to the classic elastic functional bandage. 

Gaspare Aselli was a distinguished anatomist who, through cadaver studies, was the first to recognize and describe the lymphatic and chylous circulation. He documented his groundbreaking findings in his famous “Dissertatio” on the “Lacteis Venis” in the distant year of 1627. 

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